Good Sleep Habits for Kids
Good Sleep Habits: A Well Rested Child is a Happy, Healthy and Alert Child
By Visa Shanmugam
According to a survey of kindergarten through fourth grade children (published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics) teachers have reported that about 10% of the kids were falling asleep in school.
Like adults, today’s children face many demands such as sport practices, music lessons, social events, homework and play. Also like adults, many school-age children are sleep deprived. In order to keep up with so many time consuming activities, often the first thing to get sacrificed is sleep. Letting children stay up late due to busy schedules is one of the worst things parents can do. Sleep is restorative and children and adults needs uninterrupted sleep to achieve healthy benefits. How much sleep a child needs depends on their age, but children as old as 12 should be getting between 10-11 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Instill Good Sleep Habits in Children at a Young Age
If you have an infant, teaching them good sleep habits from the time they come home from the hospital, will avoid the need to sleep train them when they are toddlers. For instance, babies are noisy sleepers. They squawk, squeal and make lots of noises during the night. First time parents tend to get anxious and worry that their babies aren’t sleeping and tend to pick them up, pat them and rock them to back to sleep again. Instead, give them a few minutes on their own to see whether they settle themselves back to sleep without interfering.
Newborns cannot handle being awake for more than 45 minutes to an hour. Anything more than this is over-stimulation and they become over-tired, which makes it harder for them to fall asleep. So follow a WAKE-EAT-PLAY-SLEEP routine every 45 to 60 minutes.
Consistent Bedtime Routing
Have a consistent bedtime routine. An enjoyable bed time routine is the key to making the journey into sleep. There is no better way to signal bedtime than a warm bath. For babies, bath time is a significantly different activity from the rest of their day and will help them recognize when bedtime is approaching and cue sleep.
An early bedtime is key to falling asleep easily. This is counter intuitive thinking, but when children go to sleep earlier, they fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep longer. Bedtimes will depend on age, but for toddlers between 7 and 7.30pm is a good time to be going off to sleep. When parents miss this window which is easy to do, they will then be facing a child that has caught their second wind and refuses to fall asleep.
Consistency and routine are vital when it comes to training children to sleep. Whatever method you choose to tackle your children’s sleep issues, stick with it! It takes time to change habits, and the same applies to sleep. If your children are used to falling asleep one way, they won’t learn a new way overnight. Be patient with them as any significant change will take at least two weeks to become the new routine.
Visa Shanmugam helps parents develop customized sleep solutions for babies, toddlers and young children that addresses each family’s specific challenges. Using techniques and strategies from The Sleep Sense™ Program developed by world-renowned sleep expert Dana Obleman, her plans are simple, easy to follow, yet flexible. Visa is available for private consultations, group seminars and speaking engagements. Website: www.sound-sleepers.com Facebook page: www.facebook.com/soundsleepers